By Cathleen Decker
9:06 AM PST, January 20, 2009
With his hand on a Bible used by Abraham Lincoln more than a century ago, Obama repeated the 35-word oath before a rapturous and massive crowd, supplemented across the country with separate, if just as boisterous, celebrations. Obama sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol and in sight of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King once proclaimed "I have a dream". On the stand as Obama took the oath were members of the Supreme Court, Congress and family and friends of the incoming leaders.
After formally becoming president, Obama was due to deliver an inaugural address that will warn Americans of difficult days ahead and call for a new spirit of bipartisan sacrifice to solve the varied problems facing the country -- themes familiar from Obama's long trek to the White House.
Mr Obama is also expected to declare a goal of closing Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, a promise he has made before but which takes greater significance after today's inauguration.
One of his most anticipated foreign policy moves in the first few months will be his commitment to travel to a large Muslim country to deliver a speech in which he will make a diplomatic push to engage Islamic nations.
Obama's inauguration speech
Obama's inauguration speech transcriptMy fellow citizens:
Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short.
For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.
Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
What is demanded then is a return to these truths.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
The Obamas' farewell the Bushes